Even at a young age, Leng Vandy already had a clear vision of where he wants to go and what he wants to be. He has his eyes set on getting a scholarship to study in Japan.
It wasn’t merely a dream for Mr Vandy. Studying in the East Asian nation is his goal – which means he has to put all his efforts, energy and determination to achieve it. And he successfully did.
He ranked first in the national Mathematics competition. He also diligently studied English and Japanese languages and cultures to help him easily cope with the differences of traditions, lifestyles and languages in Japan. And finally, he passed the MEXT Scholarship and was sponsored to get a degree in Japan in 2004.
Mr Vandy chose to take up Economics at Kobe University, aiming that the degree would make him a useful and productive citizen of Cambodia when he returns. Mr Vandy, equipped with a specific goal and unrelenting determination, thought that he was ready for everything that Japan had to offer to him. But aside from trying to adapt to the food and cold weather, the language barrier had become a major challenge.
“It might be different in other universities where students wish to attend. But in Japan, people use their native language on the first and second year students in the university. To solve this issue, I did plenty of readings. Students who want to study in Japan should be aware of this and be ready,” said Mr Vandy.
“Being separated from family taught me to become an independent teenager. I learned to manage myself accordingly, cook food and balance my daily living. I also worked as a waiter and a cook in restaurant, delivered newspapers and did surveys at railway station. It’s a sad story for a foreign student, but I learned a lot from my experiences.”
After spending five years in pursuing his Economics degree, Mr Vandy applied to two famous universities in Japan through the Monbukagakusho Scholarship. He was accepted in both universities, but in the end, he chose to earn his master’s degree in Economic Policy at the University of Tokyo.
“It was a great university, I could say. As the university has many partners, I thought that I could expose myself to other foreign schools such as the National University of Singapore, Colombia University in New York and other exchange programmes for my research paper.” It was an exciting endeavour, Mr Vandy said. But the competition was tough.
“You know what, Japanese students are really competitive. Luckily, the system is well-developed and there were lots of study materials for students. I ended up sleeping in my private research room at the university every night. I thought that would save me a lot of time rather than riding on a train for an hour. It was worth it,” Mr Vandy recalled.
After obtaining his degrees in Japan, Mr Vandy fulfilled his vow of coming back to Cambodia and use the knowledge he acquired abroad to help his own country.
“I have never thought of working abroad even if I experienced living there for seven years. I appreciate my home country and I know that it needs more educated people. I thought that if I work in Cambodia, I would grow even faster.”
Mr Vandy is now working as a business and product performance development manager at GL Finance, a financial leasing company.
With so much pride, he said he made the right decision to come back to his homeland and be the driving force of the country towards a better and more progressive future.